USDA released a summary of the 2009 agricultural disaster assistance which includes various crops, but one that many Southeastern growers noticed right away was missing is peanuts, as Tyron Spearman has the details.
TIFTON, Ga.– As if the Administration’s proposal to eliminate peanuts and peanut products from commercial airlines was not enough, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced an agricultural disaster program that excludes peanut producers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a summary of the 2009 agricultural disaster assistance that lists rice, soybeans, cotton and sweet potatoes but not peanuts or other commodities that are also grown in the Southeast.
CQ Today referenced USDA’s needs “to address complaints by many Southeastern farmers that disaster programs created under the 2008 farm law (PL 110-246) did not meet their region’s needs”.
Peanut growers in the Southeast, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi produce about 80 percent of the nation’s peanuts but will be excluded under the Administration’s disaster proposal.
“Our growers do not understand how some commodities grown in the same disaster declared county as others are excluded while others are included in the Administration’s proposal,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. “The SURE program does not work for our peanut producers. Growers that have losses are dependent on ad hoc disaster programs such as the one announced by the USDA. If you exclude specific commodities for whatever reason, those growers are economically impacted.”
Florida Peanut Producers Association President Larry Ford added, “I hope the Administration will reconsider and include peanuts in the program. The last time I checked we were still producing peanuts in the Southeast.”
“Our congressional delegation is trying to assist us but common sense should have preceded this decision and the Administration should have included peanuts in the disaster program,” says Carl Sanders, president of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “This is similar to what our industry went through with the Administration’s Department of Transportation earlier this year. With the economy in the state it’s in, why in the world would you do anything to harm any economic sector?”
Mississippi Peanut Growers Association President Joe Morgan added, “There is much confusion about how commodities are included and excluded from the Administration’s disaster program. I am not sure our growers have seen a disaster program quite like this one. The Department should go back to the drawing board and craft something that works for all agricultural producers.”
The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation (SPFF) is comprised of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association. SPFF growers produce approximately 80 percent of all U.S. peanuts. Additional information on the disaster proposal released by USDA is available online at www.AmericanPeanuts.com.